You can stick a fork in the new Guilford County budget because it’s been cooking for months and now it’s done.
Guilford County has a brand new 2019-2020 budget that will determine, for the next 12 months, how your county taxpayer dollars will be spent. The Board of Commissioners adopted the budget – one that keeps the county’s property tax rate even-steven – on Thursday, June 20 with an 8-to-1 bipartisan vote that had Democratic Commissioner Carlvena Foster as the odd woman out.
The adopted Guilford County budget, which takes effect on July 1, stuck remarkably close to the no-tax-increase budget that Guilford County Manager Marty Lawing recommended to the commissioners on Thursday, May 16.
The board did add some new positions that Lawing didn’t recommend, and also added $50,000 for resources to help the elderly in the county and took $500,000 from the Sheriff’s Department’s Inmate Welfare Fund to put toward “the purpose of Public Safety, Behavioral Health and Community Welfare needs.”
However, in other regards, the commissioners didn’t change much. The new budget kept funding for Guilford County Schools at levels recommended last month by the county manager. With a few exceptions, it followed Lawing’s recommendations for funding non-profits and local economic development agencies.
The new 2019-2020 budget totals about $628 million and calls for keeping the county’s property tax rate flat at 73.05 cents per $100 of assessed property value.
It includes a total of $313 million for education and education debt and it calls for increasing the expenditures on the county’s human services operations by about $12 million.
The budget that Lawing proposed last month included seven new positions – two in Veteran’s Services, three in Juvenile Detention and a new wellness professional to help county employees stay healthy. Before adopting the final budget, the commissioners added some more positions: new animal care jobs at the Guilford County Animal Shelter, a new employee to help the county do more business with minority and women-owned firms and a few other positions across departments.
The budget includes $206 million for school system operations – that’s a $4 million increase over the amount in the county’s 2018-2019 budget. It was an increase but school officials say they needed a bump of over twice the size of the one they got.
Lawing said one thing that helped balance the budget this year without a tax increase is that, due to a strong economy, the county had about $11 million extra coming in over the amount in the previous budget since a good economy leads to higher sales tax revenues and better property tax collection rates.